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What Is Tolterodine?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Tolterodine is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand name Detrol®. It is an antispasmodic drug that a doctor may prescribe for the treatment of an overactive bladder. Those who suffer from urinary incontinence, urgent urination, or frequent urination may find relief with this medicine. It works by improving the patient's control over the muscles that manage the bladder by easing the tension in these muscles.

This medication is available as an extended-release capsule and as a tablet. The extended-release capsule may typically be taken once daily and should never be chewed or otherwise broken. Patients will usually be prescribed a twice-daily dose of the tablet. Tolterodine should be taken with a full glass of water, with or without a meal.

People taking tolterodine may notice some mild side effects, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they are persistent or become severe. Dizziness, dry eyes, and dry mouth have been reported. An upset stomach, constipation, and headache may also occur. Some patients have experienced tiredness, drowsiness, and blurred vision.

More serious side effects are rare, but require emergency medical assistance. Patients should go to the emergency room if they experience problems breathing, severe dizziness, or swelling of the face, which could be indicative of an allergic reaction. Fainting, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, and trouble urinating have also been reported. Some patients may experience chest pain or severe abdominal pain. Rarely, a kidney infection may occur, which can be indicated by a fever, lower back pain, and painful urination.

Patients should follow certain precautions while taking tolterodine. It may increase the risk of heat stroke, because it can decrease sweating. People should avoid saunas and engaging in strenuous activities during hot weather. The consumption of alcoholic beverages should be avoided or limited.

As of 2011, it is unknown whether tolterodine may pass into breast milk. Those who are breastfeeding should avoid this medicine. Women who are pregnant should discuss the risks with their doctor and only use the drug when it is urgently needed. Elderly patients should be aware that they may be more susceptible to side effects, due to the declining function of the kidneys, which are responsible for filtering the drug out of the body.

Before using tolterodine, patients should disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Those with QT prolongation, heart problems, and glaucoma should not take tolterodine. It may also be contraindicated for use by those with kidney or liver disease, bladder obstruction, or myasthenia gravis. St. John's wort, erythromycin, and potassium supplements along with other medications may interact with tolterodine.

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